Near Grandfather Mountain in downtown Blowing Rock, N.C., there is a tree filled with nearly 1,000 notes of prayers, wishes and hopes.
Known as The Prayer Tree, the Blowing Rock tree has inspired many in recent weeks, including some Carroll County citizens who are starting their own Prayer Tree at the Carroll Wellness Center in Hillsville. Roger Hawthorne of Carroll County said he has some friends who recently went to Blowing Rock and found the tree.
“As they were walking away, they realized they had never seen one like that before. And they walked away and got to thinking about it and said, ‘You know, we need to write a letter or a prayer for JoDee Burton’s son, Scott Beasley, who is in Afghanistan,’ and so they wrote that little note there for him,” Hawthorne said. “And they came back to us and said this is a good idea for a community to have. I talked to Greg Hampton and Michaela Smith (at the wellness center) and they thought it was a good idea. It shouldn’t cost them anything and it shouldn’t cost anybody anything except for the little note tags.”
And just like that, Hawthorne placed the first prayers on the Carroll Wellness Center Prayer Tree on Thursday. The first side of the two-sided tag included the prayer for Beasley, a lieutenant in the Army currently flying Apache helicopters in Afghanistan. One side of the prayer note Hawthorne placed read, “Prayers for Scott U.S. Army and platoon in Afghanistan.” The other side says, “Thoughts and prayers for our firefighters out west.”
“Everybody that comes here all probably have people in the service or someone with cancer. Really just any type of problem they are having, they might want to just write a little note about it,” Hawthorne said. “We don’t know if it is going to go over as well as at Blowing Rock, but we wanted to start one here. We don’t know if it gets so full and we have to start eliminating some, how long they stay up, or what we have to do with them. It is kind of a new thing we just have to manage as we go along. So I think we would like to have input from people around the area. We are open to suggestions.”
Michaela Smith said tags will be available at the front desk of Carroll Wellness Center and the Prayer Tree will be open and accessible to all members of the community. In the future, she said CWC hopes to offer prayer tags closer to the actual Prayer Tree. The tree itself is located next to the bleachers overlooking the soccer field at the wellness center. The tree is also dedicated to the late Dr. Joseph H. Early, Jr. – a military veteran himself and a well-known doctor in Carroll County.
“It is kind of off the road a little bit, but people can pull right up to it, sit on the bleachers if they want to think about what they are doing and write the notes. It’s a quiet little area,” Hawthorne said. “It reminds me of back in the day when we did the tie a yellow ribbon around the tree and we had ribbons everywhere.”
While only the prayer tags will be available at the Carroll Wellness Center, Hawthorne said people are welcome to bring their own colored ribbons for cancer patients and other things of that nature.
“I just think it will go over well here,” Hawthorne said. “People want to support their veterans or those with illnesses or folks having a hard time.”
Allen Worrell can be reached at (276) 779-4062 or on Twitter@AWorrellTCN